31 January 2017

Review: Lancers brasserie, Edinburgh

WHEN YOU COOK as much as I do it’s inevitable there will be a day on which you just can’t be bothered.  That seed was planted earlier that morning with so many tasty plates of food popping up on my Instagram feed, with the new kid on the Edinburgh food block, Taisteal, catching my eye. I was ravenous, however, and the restaurant informed us it would be an hour before the next table would be free.  This minor misfortune led us to Lancers Brasserie, a Bengali/Indian restaurant I’ve probably passed a thousand times and muttered “We should try there one day” on each occasion. Today was that day.

The exterior of the building is rather sleek, lending the impression that Lancers, which sits on Hamilton Place in Stockbridge, is a relatively classy establishment. The young waiters, dressed smartly in white jackets, certainly added to this tone. Both gentlemen serving tonight were very welcoming and ushered us into small but spacious dining room where a solitary table was occupied. 

Fully aware of my meat-heavy diet, my new year’s resolution was to eat more vegetables (like thousands of you, I’m sure), and I reckoned this would best be achieved by increasing my repertoire of Indian dishes.  This naturally led to me starting my meal with a vegetarian dish of alu chat (£3.95) or ‘small juicy pieces of potato, in a hot and sour sauce’ as per the menu.  Presentation was neat, if a little old fashioned, but ultimately the proof is in the taste.  I can’t say I’ve ever heard potato described as being ‘juicy’ before but these ones certainly were and they were superbly cooked, too.   
The real art in this dish was the delicate spices that warmed the palette after the tangy, sour hints. It was most filling and a promising beginning.

Sarah’s boti kebab (£4.95) was, unfortunately, a little less inspiring. It was a generous portion, but the lamb pieces lacked the black, chargrilled goodness synonymous with a kebab.  The meat was a little dry, too, although it tasted alright. The sauce was rather wishy-washy and unidentifiable, and not helped by the strong taste of lamb.

The menu listed several different dishes from your usual Indian restaurant offerings; I went for the ginger murgh (a family favourite according to the menu) which was priced at £9.95. I enjoyed the fresh tastes of ginger and garlic that coated the tender chicken.  The balance of the spicing was again spot on, although I was disappointed that it wasn’t as hot as billed.

For her main, Sarah tackled the North Indian chilli massalam (£9.95), which did have a suitable chilli heat to it. The chicken was moist and there was a pleasant fragrance to it, enhanced by the cooked whole green chillis, which I’d enjoy eating on their own.

We shared a roti (£2.45) and a portion of ghee bat rice (buttered rice with fried onions) which were both delicious.
Overall, I’d say a solid 7/10 for Lancers Brasserie.  I’d certainly visit again, although Sarah might need more convincing. Service was a definite strength and the skill of the spice blending highly commendable. I’d like to get my teeth into a few of the options I haven’t seen or tried elsewhere.
Phone: (0131) 332 3444
Address: 5 Hamilton Place,
               EH3 5BA 

Lancers Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

12 January 2017

Public meeting to be held in defence of artisan food and Errington Cheese

Dunsyre Blue
Following widespread disquiet amongst food lovers and small food companies over the treatment of the Errington Cheese Company by Food Standards Scotland, leading figures on the Scottish food scene are launching a body to highlight threats to the future of artisan food in Scotland.

Concern continues to mount amongst those who wish to safeguard Scotland’s food heritage that small-scale producers of real food are increasingly forced to operate in a hostile regulatory environment, one that favours large-scale industrial processed food and endangers the very existence of true, artisan food culture in Scotland.

The crowd funder set up to help the Errington family’s legal fight against the ban on its cheese has already reached £23.5k- a powerful indication of the strength of public feeling on this subject. https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/joanna-blythman

So top chefs, cooks, writers, and Scottish food experts have formed the Committee For the Defence of Artisan Food. Its purpose is:

“To support and defend small businesses and artisans producing real, healthy, small-scale foods against any arbitrary, unreasonable, disproportionate actions by food and/or public health authorities”.

The committee (see list of members below) officially launches at a major public meeting on Thursday 2nd February 2017, at 7pm, in The Sanctuary, at Augustine United Church, 41-43 George IV Bridge, in Edinburgh.

Speakers will include:
- Humphrey Errington, founder of Errington Cheese
- Wendy Barrie, Director Scottish Food Guide and Scottish Cheese Trail
- Pamela Brunton, chef and co-owner of the award-winning Inver Restaurant
- Joanna Blythman, food journalist and author

Everyone is welcome. Any questions please contact Joanna Blythman on Twitter @Joanna Blythman